NY Philharmonic to Play N. Korea

Musical diplomacy may help, says ambassador
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2007 9:01 AM CST
Maestro Lorin Maazel is seen on the huge screen as people watch the opening night performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Lincoln Center Plaza Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2006 at Avery Fisher Hall...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – The New York Philharmonic plans a historic Pyongyang concert in February, giving Kim Jong Il occasion to dig out his fanciest tracksuit—and further defrosting US relations with the onetime axis of evil member. “We haven’t even had Ping-Pong diplomacy with these people,” said ambassador Christopher Hill. North Korea invited the symphony in August, after shutting down its nuclear reactor, the New York Times reports.

Past symphony visits occurred alongside warming relations with China and the former Soviet Union. But not everyone is happy: One critic called the visit “a puppet show whose purpose is to lend legitimacy to a despicable regime.” Nevertheless, Hill responded, "not opening up has not had any positive effect in bringing North Korea out of its shell.”